The Government of Canada and industry announce new environmental measures for cruise ships

News release

April 4, 2022                              Ottawa                                      Transport Canada  

Cruise ships are an important part of Canada’s domestic tourism sector. As Canada welcomes cruise ships back to its waters, the Government of Canada, in coordination with industry, announces new environmental measures for cruise ships in Canadian waters that exceed international standards. For the 2022 season, cruise operators will implement stricter environmental measures regarding greywater and blackwater. Greywater is defined as the drainage from sinks, laundry machines, bathtubs, shower-stalls, or dishwashers and blackwater is defined as the wastewater from bathroom and toilets.

The measures include:

  • Prohibiting the discharge of greywater and treated blackwater within three nautical miles from shore where geographically possible;
  • Treating greywater together with blackwater before it is discharged between three and twelve nautical miles from shore to the greatest extent possible;
  • Strengthening the treatment of blackwater between three and twelve nautical miles from shore using an approved treatment device; and
  • Reporting to Transport Canada compliance with these measures as they relate to discharges made within Canadian waters.

These measures will better protect Canada’s oceans and the marine environment and will support the work that is underway to conserve 25 percent of Canada’s oceans by 2025 and 30 percent by 2030.  

The Government of Canada plans to make these changes permanent through regulations, and appreciates the cruise ship industry’s willingness to pursue these measures in the interim.

Ahead of the 2022 cruise ship season, Transport Canada remains focused on keeping passengers and the environment safe, while also promoting tourism and growing the economy.


“Cruise ships are an important part of our economy and tourism sector, and as Canada prepares to welcome them back to our waters this month, we are committed to working with our industry partners to implement these new measures to ensure their return is safer and cleaner for our environment.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport

“The protection of our oceans and their ecosystems is a top priority for our government. With these new measures to address cruise ship pollution, this important part of our tourism sector can now chart a cleaner course through Canada’s spectacular coastal waters.”

The Honourable Joyce Murray
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Quick facts

  • On March 7, 2022, the Government of Canada announced the public health framework to safely restart cruise ship activity in Canadian waters, including requiring passengers and crew to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

  • The cruise ship industry, which represents more than $4 billion annual input into the Canadian economy and directly and indirectly generates approximately 30,000 jobs, is an important part of Canada’s domestic tourism sector. 

  • The proposed changes will exceed the current Canadian regulations aligned with international standards set out by the International Maritime Organization and complement the mandatory requirements already in place through the Vessel Pollution and Dangerous Chemicals Regulations.

  • The proposed measures will be supported by periodic reporting by the cruise operators to assess the level of compliance with these measures. These reports will be made public and the information from these reports will support a future regulatory approach to controlling discharge of greywater and blackwater in Canadian waters.

  • Greywater can contain laundry detergent, cleaners, nutrients, solids, cooking oils, and grease, as well as hazardous carcinogens and other pollutants.

  • Blackwater contains fecal coliforms, ammonia, chlorine, and can contain a variety of toxic pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, hydrocarbons, and organochlorides.

Associated links


Laurel Lennox
Press Secretary   
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
(343) 549-7892  

Media Relations 
Transport Canada, Ottawa 
(613) 993-0055

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